Drive for Detroit: Week 4 Preview

September 14, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This is the time of year, every year, when we begin to notice the start of separation among the fast starters and truly elite teams in Michigan high school football.

There are 122 teams (of 617 total) without a loss as the regular season creeps toward the midway point. And that number will go down by at least a few this weekend as a number of league races also take a turn with undefeated contenders facing off.

This week’s Drive for Detroit preview powered by MI Student Aid features three of those matchups and mentions a half-dozen more. Remember to stay with us Friday night and into Saturday for scores as they come in on the MHSAA Score Center, and click on teams off that page for updated standings and playoff points. MHSAA.tv will broadcast nine games across both peninsulas this weekend – click here for the schedule. All games below will be played Friday.

Bay & Thumb

Linden (3-0) at Fenton (3-0)

Fenton has claimed outright Flint Metro League titles by defeating Linden in the regular-season finale the last three seasons – wins by the Eagles in 2014 and 2016 would’ve meant a shared championship – but this fall the meeting comes in the heart of the league schedule. Linden has handed lone losses this season to both Flushing and Holly, and Fenton did the same to Ortonville Brandon – giving this the feeling of a few-weeks-early championship game again.

Others that caught my eye: Lake Fenton (2-1) at Goodrich (3-0), Marysville (2-1) at Marine City (3-0), Freeland (3-0) at Saginaw Swan Valley (2-1), Houghton Lake (2-1) at Beaverton (3-0).

Greater Detroit

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (3-0) at Dearborn Divine Child (3-0)

Cranbrook Kingswood has experienced an upswing in football since longtime Detroit Country Day coach Joe D’Angelo took over in 2013. Coming off three straight playoff seasons, the Cranes have opened by outscoring their first three opponents by a combined 114-7 – and two of those teams also made the playoffs last fall. Divine Child has been similarly strong against a similar group of teams and has Big Ten-committed prospects on both sides of the ball (QB/S Theo Day – Michigan State, DE/TE Aidan Hutchinson – Michigan) as it continues to build of last season’s Division 3 Semifinal run.

Others that caught my eye: Warren Mott (3-0) at Macomb Dakota (2-1), Detroit Central (2-1) at Detroit Renaissance (3-0), Clarkston (3-0) at West Bloomfield (1-2), Waterford Mott (2-1) at Walled Lake Western (3-0).

Mid-Michigan

Grand Ledge (2-1) at Lansing Sexton (3-0)

Grand Ledge and DeWitt were considered the unquestioned elite in the Lansing area heading into this season. Then the Panthers downed the Comets 14-7 in Week 2 to rise to the top of the list. But Sexton is building a solid argument as well giving up only 21 points so far and after handing Portland its first regular-season loss since 2014. Another victory tonight would put the Big Reds firmly in the discussion; the winner regardless will take a significant step toward the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title.

Others that caught my eye: Vermontville Maple Valley (3-0) at Lake Odessa Lakewood (3-0), Lansing Catholic (3-0) at Williamston (2-1), Perry (2-1) at Olivet (3-0), Fulton (2-1) at Fowler (2-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Lincoln Alcona (3-0) at AuGres-Sims (3-0)

It’s hard to remember that 11-year span at the start of this century when Alcona didn’t make the playoffs once; the Tigers have qualified four of the last five seasons and are well on their way again with two wins this fall over playoff teams from a year ago. AuGres-Sims started what it hopes is a similar bounce-back going 7-3 last year despite falling to Alcona 58-20. If like opponents mean anything – they have two so far in 2017 – tonight’s game should be a lot closer than that last meeting and could end up deciding the North Star League title.

Others that caught my eye: Whittemore-Prescott (2-1) at Gaylord St. Mary (3-0), Evart (2-1) at McBain (2-1), Johannesburg-Lewiston (2-1) at Charlevoix (1-2), Kalkaska (3-0) at Elk Rapids (2-1).

Southeast & Border

Ypsilanti Community (2-1) at Adrian (2-1)

Once an annual power, we didn’t talk about Adrian for a few seasons until the Maples ended a string of four sub-.500 finishes by winning a District title last fall. They fell in an odd one, 11-7, last weekend after the power went out Friday and they had to resume Sunday morning. Ypsilanti Community also fell last week, to Pinckney, but has equaled last season’s win total and shut out Tecumseh on opening night.

Others that caught my eye: Dundee (2-1) at Hudson (3-0), Brooklyn Columbia Central (2-1) at Ida (3-0), Chelsea (2-1) at Tecumseh (2-1), Addison (3-0) at Napoleon (2-1)

Southwest Corridor

Stevensville Lakeshore (3-0) at St. Joseph (3-0)

Last week Lakeshore/Portage Central was the big game in the southwest part of the state, and following a 24-7 win the Lancers are headlining again as they face their other annual main competition in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West. Lakeshore has beaten St. Joseph in four straight. But the Bears have been tough defensively and can rely on running back Ryan Haynes, who has piled up more than 400 yards on the ground.

Others that caught my eye: Union City (3-0) at Quincy (3-0), Dowagiac (2-1) at Edwardsburg (3-0), Traverse City Central (2-1) at Portage Central (2-1), St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic (3-0) at Parchment (2-1).

Upper Peninsula

Ishpeming Westwood (3-0) at Gladstone (3-0)

Like Lakeshore above, Westwood finds itself in the top spot for as second straight week after downing previously undefeated L’Anse 38-10 to eclipse its win total from a year ago. The Patriots also handed Munising its lone loss this season, but the toughest competition so far should come from Gladstone – which switched to the Mid-Peninsula Conference this season after battling the biggest in the U.P. in the Great Northern Conference for more than two decades. Last week’s 43-0 win over Negaunee gave the Braves as many wins as they had all of last season and as many as they’ve had in any season since 2010.

Others that caught my eye: Marquette (1-2) at Escanaba (2-1), Munising (2-1) at Newberry (2-1), Gwinn (2-1) at Norway (3-0), Hancock (3-0) at L'Anse (2-1).

West Michigan

Muskegon (3-0) at Byron Center (3-0)

The Grand Rapids and Muskegon areas are loaded with outstanding matchups this weekend – see the others mentioned below – but this gets top billing because of Byron Center’s opportunity. Muskegon is a state power and came within minutes of winning the Division 3 title last year. But the Bulldogs finished 10-2 – earning their most wins since 2000 – with both losses to the Big Reds, in Week 4 and again in a Division 3 Regional Final.

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids Christian (3-0) at Grand Rapids South Christian (3-0), Zeeland East (3-0) at Holland (3-0), Whitehall (2-1) at Muskegon Oakridge (3-0), Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (3-0) at Muskegon Mona Shores (3-0).

8-Player

Bellevue (3-0) at Portland St. Patrick (3-0)

The Broncos moved into 8-player this season coming off two straight 3-5 finishes and one win in 2014. So far, it’s a perfect fit. Bellevue’s start has been nearly perfect defensively – it’s outscored its first three opponents by a combined 146-6. St. Patrick has a lot more experience in the 8-player format – the Shamrocks twice have come within a win or two of the MHSAA championship game since making the move in 2012. They’re coming off a 38-22 win over rival Webberville, which Bellevue beat 40-6 on opening night.

Others that caught my eye: Ontonagon (2-0) at Rapid River (3-0), Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (2-1) at Onekama (3-0), Deckerville (3-0) at Kingston (2-1), New Haven Merritt (2-1) at Bay City All Saints (2-1).

Second Half’s weekly “Drive for Detroit” previews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division. Click for more information and connect with MI Student Aid on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid. 

PHOTO: Grand Ledge quarterback Nolan Bird targets a receiver during his team’s 14-7 loss to DeWitt in Week 2. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Record-Setting Viney Gained Lifelong Confidence at Marine City

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

July 17, 2024

Olivia Viney didn’t have to look far for inspiration while taking on the challenge of applying to veterinary school.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 2015 Marine City graduate and record-setting placekicker simply drew from her own experience as a high school athlete.

“It just really taught me that I could do hard things,” Viney said. “I was very involved when I was in school. I did soccer, theater, travel soccer and then football. Especially with football, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. That helped me to excel in undergrad. When it came time to get accepted to vet school, it was like, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I did it. That was very confidence-building. It taught me that I really can do hard things.”

Viney, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2019 and Michigan State Veterinary School in 2023, is now working as an associate veterinarian at Deporre Veterinary Hospital in West Bloomfield. 

Accomplishing her goals is nothing new to Viney, and not at all a surprise to those who watched her come through the Mariners athletic program.

“She was very serious, she was focused and she was dialed in,” said Dave Frendt, who coached Viney in both football and soccer at Marine City. “She knew what she wanted to accomplish, and she set out to do that. She was a fierce competitor and very driven. She was a good leader in that way where she was kind of feisty, but the team would follow that.”

Viney was an all-state soccer player for the Mariners, leading them to a pair of District titles and a Macomb Area Conference Gold title during her four years as a varsity player. It’s the sport she grew up playing, but the one she was most known for after graduation was football. American football.

The 5-foot-1-ish center attacking midfielder found herself in the MHSAA football record book after hitting all seven of her extra point attempts in the Mariners’ 2013 Division 4 Final victory against Grand Rapids South Christian.

“I think it makes sense,” she said. “There were lots of great soccer players, even that I played with. Great players that had gone through school, so I don’t think it’s weird that people remember me for that. When I talk with people, they’ll connect the dots – ‘Oh, you played football.’

“I was more accomplished as a soccer player and had more accolades. But I’m prouder of my football accomplishments, because it was really setting a pathway for girls that wanted to get into that. It’s so much more common now, or accepted. Even though it’s been almost 11 years since we won at Ford Field, I’m so proud of high school Olivia and what she did, the courage she had. She wasn’t scared of anything.”

Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. Viney joined Marine City’s football program as a sophomore, playing on the junior varsity squad. While she was there only to kick, she was all in when it came to practicing.

“Coach (Joe) Fregetto made me do tackling drills and drills in the mud – I really did earn my spot on the team,” Viney said. “I think it was mostly because he didn’t know what to do with me, so I guess just do everything that the guys do.”

She handled varsity kicking duties the next two years, setting the school record in 2013 for most extra points made during a single season – a record that still stands. Former Mariners coach Ron Glodich said that Viney actually never missed an extra point that season, as the four failed attempts were never even kicked.

It was her performance in the Division 4 Final that gained her statewide acclaim, as she hit 7 of 7 attempts, tying a record for most extra points made in a Finals game. It stood until a pair of kickers hit eight in 2022.

One record that never will be broken, however, is Viney becoming the first female to score a point at the Finals.

“Everything was so surreal, I was so nervous,” Viney said. “One of my most vivid memories was that day, or maybe the day before, Coach Glodich said, ‘Just so you know, when you get to the field, the goal posts are two feet narrower on each side. But that doesn’t matter if you kick it in the middle.’

“We got there and watched the team before us so we could get used to it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so narrow.’ … Seeing myself up on the big screen was kind of almost a little embarrassing, because I knew people were talking about me being the girl. But once we were in the game, it was a lot like any other game. I was just waiting for my turn to go on the field and do my job.”

Viney later was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” – ironically, right below current U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh – but she wasn’t looked at any differently by her teammates, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be.

“That team was all about sacrifice for the team,” Frendt said. “For them to realize, ‘None of us can do what she does, so we better embrace it, because no one else can do it.’ They really made her feel like part of the team. They wanted to protect her, too. But she was tough. She wasn’t going to take anything.”

Viney went to SVSU to study biology and played for its club soccer team. During her time there, she volunteered at an animal shelter and made the decision she wanted to help animals in her career. She works in general practice at Deporre, and would eventually like to work in shelter medicine.

She and her husband Matt, who were married in May, live with their three dogs. She’s not far from home, and in the spring of 2023 she visited Frendt’s college and career readiness class to speak with students at her alma mater. Her presentation and the attention to detail and hard work she put into it, Frendt said, blew his students away. Not that it surprised him.

“That’s poured into her life after sports,” he said of her work ethic. “She just kept plugging away. She’s awesome.”

July 11: High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb - Read
July 10: 
Nightingale Embarking on 1st Season as College Football Head Coach - Read
June 28:
 E-TC's Witt Bulldozing Path from Small Town to Football's Biggest Stage - Read

PHOTOS (Top) Marine City’s Olivia Viney kicks at the 2013 11-Player Football Finals, also during her spring soccer season, and cares for one of her patients as an associate veterinarian. (Middle) Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. (Photos courtesy of Olivia Viney.)